India Wants Its Kohinoor Gem Back

As they say, there are two sides to a story. Indian lawmakers allege that Britain forcibly took their legendary "Kohinoor" diamond during colonial rule from an Indian maharajah, and they demand it back. The British say it was a gift.

Kuldip Nayar, a member of the upper house of parliament and a former high commissioner to Britain, told Reuters Tuesday he had moved a motion in the upper house for the return of the Kohinoor and other relics by Britain.

"We have also written a letter to the prime minister urging him to take up the issue of the Kohinoor with the British premier. Twenty-five members of parliament from both houses and cutting across party lines have signed the letter," he said, adding, "they should have returned the relics long ago."

But British curators assert that the Kohinoor, considered among the largest diamonds in the world, was given to the British monarch in the 19th century by an Indian maharajah.

Traditionally, the Indian government has maintained that historical legacies must remain in the country, but has seldom pushed the issue with the former colonial rulers.

Nayar drew attention to efforts by Greece to recover the Elgin Marbles, classical sculptures, which Britain says were legitimately bought from Athens' former imperial rulers, the Ottoman Turks.

"They (British authorities) are considering the return of the Greek Elgin Marbles. If that can happen, why cannot the Kohinoor be returned to India which was forcibly taken from Maharajah Dalip Singh?" he said.

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